Continuing a trend that has crossed campuses across the South, "Silent Sam," a statue depicting a Confederate soldier on the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill's campus, was defaced over the weekend with the now-popular phrase, "Black Lives Matter."
The statue was originally put up on campus in 1913 as a memorial to the more than 300 UNC students who died in the Civil War, ABC 11 reported.
"We understand that the issue of race and place is both emotional and, for many, painful. Carolina is working hard to ensure we have a thoughtful, respectful and inclusive dialogue on the issue. The extensive discussions with the Carolina community this past year by the Board of Trustees and University leadership, and the work we will be doing to contextualize the history of our campus is a big part of advancing those conversations," Rick White, UNC's Associate Vice Chancellor of Communications and Public Affairs, told the TV station.
"We welcome all points of view, but damaging or defacing statues is not the way to go about it."
But many students told the local news that they believed the graffiti, which also included the word "murderer," only improved the controversial statue.
"The artist responsible for this thing we like to call vandalism I think what they've done is not vandalism, they've made a major improvement to the statue," UNC student Nikhil Umesh told ABC 11.
"As an African-American woman, who is a student here, that statue is the very statue that pretty much says I don't belong here, that I shouldn't be here," student Kirsten Adams said. "It is a relevant statue, and so it should be there, on the other hand if we keep Silent Sam up, if we keep all these halls named after these racists, it's like we're celebrating the racism so you kind of have to draw a line somewhere."
UNC has already been addressing these charges.
Back in May trustees voted to change the name of the school's Saunders Hall after similar Confederate controversy, the Huffington Post noted. The building had been named for William Saunders, a UNC graduate who fought in the Civil War before becoming a Ku Klux Klan leader.
"Silent Sam" is now partially covered to hide the graffiti.